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Johnson's restart slips gift Kurt the win

"It was just perfect execution today, with pit stops and with making the car better during the race," said Kurt Busch. "I couldn't be happier right now. To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, this is what it's all about."

His arch enemy of the past few weeks, Jimmie Johnson, was left ruing those last two restarts that had cost him the win. "I did a really good job, up until those last two," Johnson said. "I blew it by spinning the tires. Kurt got a good launch, and we were door to door going into 1, and he was able to get by on the outside," he explained. "And then the next one, I was going to try to do that same thing back to him, and I was just trying to time it when he was going to accelerate. And I didn't time it right.

"I put it on me, because the starts I had earlier in the day, regardless of the lane, leading or not. I cleared them typically going into 1 so, it's on me."

Kurt Busch had also been lucky that the early dominant runner, Carl Edwards, had shot himself in the foot with that mid-race pit lane speeding penalty. "I ruined it there on pit road," Edwards said. "That's about as small as you can feel in a race car. We talked about it before the race ... Bob [Osborne, crew chief] and I actually discussed the last section [and] how I was not going to speed through it. And I just blasted right through it."

Edwards thanked his pit crew for sticking by him after his error, "Because they had every right to be really, really upset with me. So it ended up being a good finish."

Edwards' third place was enough to boost him into a share of the points lead in the Chase with Kevin Harvick, who recovered from that mid-race dip to finish in tenth place. Kurt Busch's victory was enough to put him into a share of third place with Tony Stewart, whose two-race winning streak came to an end with a bump at Dover after never overcoming a poor qualifying effort and failing to put together a setting that really worked on the concrete Monster Mile.

"Obviously the main thing that put us behind was just our qualifying effort, and just starting so far back," said crew chief Darian Grubb. "The biggest thing, though, was just that we don't have the concrete tracks figured out ... We just need to figure out what we need to do. It's not because of a lack of effort."

Jimmie Johnson - all-but written off after last weeks' race - is straight back into contention in fifth place thanks to his second place at Dover. He's just ahead of Kenseth and Keselowski in the points, but only 20pts cover the top nine Chase contenders after three races.

Falling somewhat out of contention are Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who followed up his early sway bar problem with a wheel problem that forced him into an unscheduled pit stop that dropped him to 24th place by the end), Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

Newman - like his team mate and car owner Stewart - confessed that they just had been in bad shape all weekend. "The whole package," he replied when asked what the problem been. "Even when we got the balance halfway decent, the car didn't have speed. So we just missed it."

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

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Kurt Busch burns down his Goodyear Eagle tires after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 on Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. [Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS stops in the pits on his way to his win Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, suffers a mechanical issue during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the #55 Fronius USA/Viva Auto Group Chevrolet, spins out during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies in second position Friday, February 27, 2015 for a front row position start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development, speaks to members of the media after a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, stands in the garage during a testing session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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